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Party Manifestos: Building a Stronger North East?


With one day of the election campaign left, we've been through the manifestos to see how they stack up against our campaign priorities

The Chamber’s Stronger North East campaign sets out the policy changes and investment we believe are needed to make the most of our region’s economic potential. With one day left ahead of the General Election, we’ve taken a look at the various party manifestos and assessed where they stand on these issues. The ideas and commitments vary hugely across the manifestos and the table below should not be seen as endorsing any one party over another:

Influential North East



Liberal Democrat



A bolder and more ambitious strategy for the Northern Powerhouse with the North East at its heart

The National Transformation Fund Unit, part of the Treasury, to be placed in the North

New regional offices for Government to be established

House of Lords to be abolished in favour of an elected Senate of the Nations and Regions

Continue to champion investment in the Northern Powerhouse

Abolish the House of Lords (to, most likely, be replaced with a regionally elected chamber).

Backing for further meaningful and effective devolution in our region

A Devolution White Paper to be published in 2020 setting out plans for ‘full devolution across England’

Labour will ‘decentralise decision making and strengthen local democracy’

Directly elected mayors to be made ‘more accountable to local councillors and elected representatives’

Equal opportunities for local areas irrespective of whether they have mayoral authorities.

Powers to be established to allow groups of authorities to establish devolved governance

Citizens' Initiative for members of the public to call for referendums that reach a 5m threshold.

A clear proposition and cohesive approach to attract investment into the North East

Greater foreign investment to be driven through Northern Powerhouse

Global North East



Liberal Democrat



A Brexit outcome that doesn’t adversely affect our ability to trade with the EU

Withdrawal Agreement back before Christmas, with a new trade deal agreed before December 2020.

Will not allow for extend negotiations or transition beyond 2020.

A new Brexit deal that ‘protects jobs, rights and the environment, avoids a hard border in Northern Ireland and protects the Good Friday Agreement’

A permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union and close alignment with the Single Market

Deal to be put to the public in a legally binding referendum

Stop Brexit with revocation.

Could back either Labour or Conservative minority Government’s IF they guarantee a confirmatory deal.

Pro-remain party, favour a People’s Vote but no clear vision on what a Green Brexit deal would be.

Remain and Reform platform- transparency, member bills, end of Strabourg.

“Clean Break” or “real” Brexit to take control of laws, border, money and (of course) fishing.

During negotiations “Clean Break” referred to a No Deal scenario, though nothing in the “Contract” states we will be leaving immediately or on January 31st

Far greater activity across Government and by businesses to generate new trade opportunities across the globe

Creation of up to 10 Freeports.

80% of British trade aimed to be covered by Free Trade deals with USA, NZ, Aus & Japan.

Forge closer lins with Commonwealth and boost EXF to access emerging markets.

Creation of Catapult innovation zones in line with Local Industrial Strategies- esp. Carbon & environmental innovations.

Harmonising EU environmental standards.

Introduction of Carbon tariff on states not reducing carbon

Break away from State Aid Rules, and invest in classic strategic industries like Defence, Steel and Rail.

Freeports in certain regions.

Overhaul of service industry regulation and SME lending rules.

Better resourced and tailored support for North East businesses to trade internationally

CAP/CFP Switch to sustainability.

Maintain subsidies and grants paid by the EU to UK businesses such as farmers, fisheries, universities and research.

Provide transitional relief to key sectors to ensure a smooth Brexit.

Greater coordination and promotion of tourism across the North East

Creating a Tourist Minister under DCMS.

Local authorities to introduce Tourist levies to fund tourist infrastructure

Investment towards eco-tourism schemes- habitat recovery, conservation etc.

Connected North East



Liberal Democrat



Investment across the rail network in the North East to enable better local and national connections

Northern Powerhouse Rail to be built between Leeds and Manchester and then focus on Liverpool, Tees Valley, Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle.

Findings of Oakervee Review into HS2 to be ‘considered’.

£4.2 billion after 2022 for tram, local rail and bus outside of London that have devolved mayors

Railways to be brought back into public ownership

A full, rolling programme of electrification

Long-term plan to deliver ‘Crossrail for the North’ and completion of HS2 to Scotland

Commitment to HS2, Crossrail 2 and ‘other major new strategic rail routes’ – including Northern Powerhouse Rail

Investment in rail connections across the North funded by scrapping HS2

Scrap HS2 and reinvest £50bn into road and rail schemes in “development starved regions”.

A swifter planning process for key road works

£28.8bn investment in strategic road network and ‘the biggest ever pothole-filling programme’

See above

Reform of Treasury rules on infrastructure spending

The National Transformation Fund Unit, part of the Treasury, to be placed in the North

Improved access to ports and airports to further international trade ambitions

Up to 10 Freeports to be created around the UK

Electrification of rail lines from major ports as an ‘urgent priority’

Improved rail connections to all ports

Creation of Freeports

Public and private investment to maintain the North East’s competitive advantage in new energy technologies

£800 million to build the first fully deployed carbon capture storage cluster by the mid-2020s. £500 million to help energy-intensive industries move to low-carbon techniques.

7,000 new offshore and 2,000 new onshore wind turbines

New nuclear power

Energy and water to be brought into public ownership, with 14 new Regional Energy Agencies to be established

All councils to produce a Zero Carbon Strategy – including plans for local energy use

Investment and innovation in cutting-edge energy technologies, including tidal and wave power, energy storage, demand response, smart grids and hydrogen

Green New Deal to be launched, with aim of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy

Introduce new support for solar, geothermal, tidal, hydro and other renewable energies to provide much of the remainder of the UK’s energy supply by 2030

Digital connectivity to be given far greater prominence in economic strategy

Full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business by 2025. £5bn of new funding to connect premises which are not commercially viable.

Broadband arm of BT to be brought into public ownership

Full-fibre broadband to be delivered to all by 2030

A programme of installing hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK – with a particular focus on connecting rural areas

Roll out high speed broadband

Invest and develop broadband to deliver free base WIFI in deprived areas and free public transport wifi.

Competitive North East



Liberal Democrat



A new UK Shared Prosperity Fund that expressly addresses the needs of the North East

UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be used ‘to bind together the whole of the United Kingdom, tackling inequality and deprivation in each of our four nations. It will replace the overly bureaucratic EU Structural Funds – and not only be better targeted at the UK’s specific needs, but at a minimum match the size of those funds in each nation.’

A Local Transformation Fund to be established in each region to fund infrastructure projects

£2.5bn reinvestment in coastal and fishing communities.

Maintain grants to CAP, universities and Research- “it is our money anyway”

Interventions across the North East to stimulate and support town centres;

A Towns Fund to be distributed among an initial 100 towns to improve their local economy. £250m to invest in local libraries and regional museums

Reviving high streets by stopping bank branch closures, banning ATM charges and giving local government powers to put empty shots to good use

Finance the transformation of town centres by expanding the Future High Streets Fund

Re-develop the business rate system to an easier format for small high street sellers- no further details.

Cut import tariffs to zero on certain food, clothing and footwear products.

More funding and innovative approaches to improve the quality and diversity of housing stock in the North East

Social Housing White Paper to be published.

Affordable Homes Programme to be renewed

spend £2,860 per household on improving the energy efficiency of social housing

extend the housing association Right to Buy pilot

To simplify shared ownership by setting a single standard for all housing associations

Millions of homes to be upgraded to make them more energy efficient.

A new social housebuilding programme of more than 1m homes in ten years

A new Decent Homes programme to improve all council and housing association homes

Cities would get the power to impose rent caps and other controls.

private renters' charter, landlords would face an annual check, with fines if their properties are found to be sub-standard.

Build at least 100,000 homes for social rent each year and ensure that total housebuilding increases to 300,000 each year

basing stamp duty on a property's energy rating

100,000 new council homes per year

Simplified planning process for Brownfield sites.

Change the funding model to make it easier for councils to borrow from Government to build council houses.

Ambitious local housing and infrastructure strategies that enable economic growth

Planning rules to be amended so tat new infrastructure is in place before people move into new home, supported by £10bn Single Housing Infrastructure Fund

A new Department for Housing to be created. Homes England to become a more accountable national housing agency with ‘councils in the driving seat’

Allocate funding to local authorities for council home creation based on the needs of their area.

Incentivise local authorities to spread small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates, and to build, renovate and convert to high quality designs that respect local architectural heritage.

Working North East



Liberal Democrat



Greater flexibility for Apprenticeship Levy payers to allow them to use their levy funds to address skills gaps.More support for SMEs to utilise the skills system; reducing complexity and allowing them to share resources

“[We will] look at how we can improve the working of the Apprenticeship Levy” – no details.

All big new infrastructure projects will require significant numbers of new UK apprentices

National Skills Fund will provide matching funding for SMEs

A Climate Apprenticeship programme – employers expected to allocate 25% of the funds in their Levy account to these apprentices

Transfer of Levy funds to non-Levy payers to be increased to 50%

A new online matching service to assist with transfers

Expand apprenticeship levy into a “Skills and Training Levy”, 25% of funds to go to a Social Mobility Fund

Invest £2 billion a year in training and skills (including new apprenticeships)

Boost the repair and recondition sector with new apprenticeship schemes.

“Invest in young people: scrap interest on student loans, which will improve the debt recovery rate, and introduce a new workable apprenticeship scheme”- Improve tax incentives for employers to take on genuine apprentices.

Scrap the Apprentice Levy

Further improvements in careers advice and business engagement with education to provide young people with the right guidance on career options

An extra £14 billion in funding for schools – nothing specific on careers advice

As part of new National Education Service: “reform existing careers advice, working towards an integrated information, advice and guidance system that covers the entire NES.”

Improve careers advice and links with employers in schools and colleges – no details

Skills Wallets - £10,000 for adults to spend on education and training throughout their lives, access to free careers guidance

Strengthen the link between schools and the communities they serve by ending academisation

Formal education to start at 6 years

Increase funding for education by £4billion a year – nothing specific on careers advice

Abolish the target to push 50% of young people into Higher Education

Policy decisions that support our world class Higher Education institutions and their role in the economy

Increase domestic public R&D spending – target of 2.4% of GDP being spent on R&D

Make the UK the leading global hub for life sciences

“Look at” the interest rates on student loan repayments. Strengthen universities and colleges’ civic role

Student visa will allow young people to stay on to apply for work after they graduate

Abolish tuition fees and bring back maintenance grants

Office for Students to become a body of the National Education Service

Introduce post-qualification admissions in HE

Skills Wallets - £10,000 for adults to spend on education and training throughout their lives, access to free careers guidance

Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students

Review HE finance in the next Parliament

Fully find HE and scrap undergraduate tuition fees

Write off debt for former students who studied under the £9k tuition fee regime

HE courses offered as learning experiences, not as pre-work training

Abolish the target to push 50% of young people into Higher Education

Abolish student loan interest

An immigration system that allows North East firms to attract and retain the right skills from around the world

End freedom of movement and introduce an Australian style points-based system

Target of fewer lower-skilled migrants and overall number to come down

Fast-track entry for qualified doctors and nurses, and the best technology and science graduates

A migration system that allows us to ‘recruit the people we need’. Freedom of movement to continue if UK remains in EU.

A work visa system to fill any skills or labour shortages that arise

Refugees will have the right to work and access public services

Give asylum seekers the right to work three months after they have applied

Stop Brexit and save freedom of movement

Move policymaking on work permits and student visas out of the Home Office

Replace Tier 2 visas with a more flexible system

2 year visa for students to work after graduation

No minimum income rules for visas, full workplace rights for migrants, the right to work for asylum seekers and recourse to public support for migrants and asylum seekers who need it

Make a ‘Windrush Day’ bank holiday, to celebrate the contribution that migration has made to our society

Reducing migration in the long term, by correcting imbalances caused by labour-market inequalities across Europe

A “fair” point-based immigration system that is “blind to ethnic origin”, addresses wage stagnation.

Reduce annual immigration

Government to listen and respond to business concerns about the viability of T-Levels

Invest “almost £2billion” to upgrade the entire FE College estate

20 Institutes of Technology for high quality teaching in STEM

No mention of T Levels

Ensure fairness and sustainability in further education, aligning the base rate of per-pupil funding in post-16 education with Key Stage 4, providing dedicated capital funding to expand provision

No mention of T Levels

New sector-led National Colleges

Invest an extra £1 billion in Further Education funding, including by refunding colleges for the VAT they pay

No mention of T Levels

Revive the further education sector to provide a wider choice of academic and vocational learning

Raise the funding rate for 16–17-year-olds, followed by an annual rise in line with inflation

No mention of T Levels

No mention of T Levels